After California taxpayers discovered the tiny town of Bell had been paying enormous and illegal salaries to officials there, many people asked: How did we miss this for so long? That's when The Center for Investigative Reporting set out to create the most comprehensive database in the country of local government salaries. Although these salaries are public records, most taxpayers know little about whether the paychecks for city and county officials are fair. No statewide standards govern how local pay is set, leaving the public in the dark about whether their city managers, for example, are paid appropriately for the job and the community. With Payday California, CIR skillfully put into context the $40 billion a year that California cities and counties spend on their employees.